The Challenge Ahead
Migrating from Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can pose a significant challenge for companies that have relied heavily on Google Analytics for website analytics and advertising. MetaRouter provides a secure and simple pathway for setting up, testing and optimizing GA4 alongside an enterprise’s existing UA integration. This allows companies to officially turn off UA only when they are certain their GA4 configuration will be at parity or better than UA.
One of MetaRouter’s clients, a Fortune 50 Retailer, was recently in this position. They viewed a Google Analytics migration as risky, with potentially adverse impacts on advertising performance, analytics capabilities, reporting, and even website security By seeing the GA4 migration live before deprecating their existing UA integration, the customer has been able to complete their GA4 migration and begin collecting data in preparation for the upcoming UA sunset date.
Why Migrate Now?
In March 2022, Google stated that a migration is no longer optional. Soon, Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits, which means data sent to UA servers will error and the UI will cease to show any data. error and the UI will cease to show any data. This means that customers using standard Universal Analytics will not see new hits processed after July 1, 2023, and Universal Analytics 360 users will not see new hits after July 1, 2024.
While Google is automating some migrations, sophisticated users it is critical that UA users will ensure their custom configs are compatible with GA4. They knew this deadline was looming and turned to MetaRouter for a solution.
Similar to dual-tagging, MetaRouter can send data into both UA and GA4 concurrently, giving your organization the ability to perform traditional analysis in UA while building historical data and improving workflows with GA4. Performing this type of soft migration gives them the ability to adapt to and perfect their GA4 strategy.
MetaRouter performed side-by-side testing without the use of GA4 tags for their organization. By measuring common metrics such as page views, add to cart events, and transactions, MetaRouter demonstrated a high degree of similarity between UA and GA4 tracking. It’s important to note that GA4 and UA operate very differently. GA4 does not have bot filtering and it measures all user activity as events. But, by measuring common metrics such as page views, add to cart events, and transactions, MetaRouter demonstrated a robust degree of similarity between the metrics that mattered while tweaking the tracking schemas. With the help of this data, we’ve been able to implement GA4 with confidence and apply changes to configurations where necessary within less than a day, which has led to a streamlined migration experience.
Not Just Another Tag
The standard migration path to date has been to dual-host Google tags on your website. While this is the quickest way to migrate, most organizations are hesitant to put another tag on their website for many reasons, including:
- Security concerns arising from lack of control over how the tag functions
- Data collection accuracy & disparities between the two data sets
- Signal loss derived from third-party tracking blockers
MetaRouter provides an alternative to the typical tag implementation that addresses these concerns. The platform collects data once on the page, manages identity negotiation with third-party vendors like Google, and routes data to vendors server-side - all within a customer’s private cloud environment.
Because MetaRouter already collects all the data that GA4 requires, customers simply need to evaluate how the data they’re collecting is translated into GA4’s server-side API, Measurement Protocol. MetaRouter allows you to dramatically reduce and control the frequency with which Google Tags are fired while still enabling important conversion attribution benefits described here. This allows the customer to move swiftly into testing.
GA4 Unboxed and Unlocked
Through MetaRouter’s UI, organizations control every single parameter they send to their destinations, including GA4. Simply choose not to send certain data like PII, transform data according to your preferences, and perform other actions that give you ultimate control over the shape of your data.
The organization was able to manipulate their event stream to send data to GA4 exactly the way they needed to, while enabling full functionality compared to tag implementations.
Reducing the Footprint of GA4
Website tags like the GA4 Configuration and Events tags can require hundreds of milliseconds to load on the page. That introduces website load latency concerns that are highly sensitive for the organization, since page latency is directly tied to online sales and revenue.
By migrating to GA4 using a MetaRouter server-side integration, they have reduced calls made directly by Google by >20% and saved an average of 400ms load latency per page. By reducing the amount of calls, MetaRouter not only significantly improved page performance, but also strengthened their control over their data by reducing third-party API calls.
Migrate with More Data
Ad blockers have increasingly reduced the efficacy of third-party tracking tools like Google Analytics.They’ve been trained to look specifically for Google tools’ signals and block them with a high degree of efficacy, skewing data sets and compromising analytics workflows.
MetaRouter tracking is performed in a first-party context, much like how your website calls from your own servers to produce content. This ensures that tracking blockers are unlikely to pick up on MetaRouter data tracking. The company saw up to 30% more data tracked compared to third-party tracking tools, giving them a much fuller and richer data set to work with.
The Leading GA4 Server-Side Solution
While other server-side GA4 solutions exist, none of them have taken the stance of actually reducing the amount of tag fires that Google makes from the browser. MetaRouter combines the pathways outlined by the GA4 Measurement Protocol with our unique server-side integration approach to deliver a GA4 server-side integration built for the first-party, privacy-focused future of customer data.
Note: Official Google Universal Analytics sunset dates are as of the time of this writing.